United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
ALLISON D. BURROUGHS U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
Hugson Jean (“Jean”), who is proceeding pro
se, brings this action against Defendant Megan J.
Brennan, Postmaster General of the United States Postal
Service (the “Postal Service”), alleging racial
discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights
Act of 1964 (“Title VII”). In the fall of 2009,
Jean was terminated from his position as a transitional
employee in the Hingham Post Office. Plaintiff alleges that
he was terminated based on his race and color in violation of
Title VII. Currently pending are cross-motions for summary
judgment. For the reasons stated herein, both motions are
Factual and Procedural Background
following facts are undisputed, unless otherwise noted.
Additional relevant facts will be discussed as needed in this
Memorandum and Order.
a Haitian black male. [ECF No. 115 ¶ 1]. From February
2009 until he was terminated in November 2009, Jean was
employed by the Postal Service as a transitional employee
(“TE”) letter carrier in the Hingham Post Office.
Id. ¶ 6. TE letter carriers and career letter
carriers have virtually the same responsibilities in that
both are assigned to deliver mail. Id. ¶ 14.
TEs and career carriers, however, have different wages,
benefits, and privileges. Id. The TE position is a
one-year position, which requires reappointment to be
extended. Id. ¶ 7. In addition, according to
the defendant, TEs are not subject to progressive discipline
and can be removed for cause without warning, though Jean
disputes this. Id. ¶ 15.
November 6, 2009, Jean was subject to a pre-disciplinary
interview (“PDI”) to discuss certain issues with
his performance. Id. ¶ 41. In addition to Jean,
the PDI was attended by Jean's supervisor John Tuley, the
then Postmaster General Patrick Donovan, and Michael
Bertrand, who was then Shop Steward for the National
Association of Letter Carriers (“NALC”).
Id. At the end of the PDI, Donovan asked Jean for
his ID badge, satchel, and uniform and escorted him out of
the building. Id. ¶ 43. A week later, the
Postal Service sent Jean a Notice of Removal formally
terminating his employment with the Postal Service. [ECF No.
96 (“Driscoll Decl.”), Ex. 20]. The letter stated
that Jean was being removed because he had (1) failed to
follow instructions; and (2) failed to discharge his assigned
duties conscientiously and effectively. Id. The
letter detailed two incidents that had purportedly led to
Jean's removal: on November 3, 2009, he had failed to
complete 89 assigned deliveries and missed several managed
service point (“MSP”) scans and on November
4, 2009, he had lost a certified letter. Id. The
Notice of Removal also stated that Jean had refused to follow
instructions in connection with the MSP scans based on the
fact that, contrary to Postal Service policy, Jean had
insisted that the MSP scan locations be given to him, and
that he not have to ask for them. Id.
alleges that the Postal Service's stated reasons for
firing him were pretextual and that his termination was
motivated by race discrimination. As the only black TE in the
Hingham Post Office, Jean charges that he was treated
differently than other similarly situated TEs who were not
terminated for similar misconduct.
addition, Jean alleges that his termination was linked to an
incident, from a month earlier, in which he was accosted by a
Postal Service customer. On October 9, 2009, after Jean
delivered a certified letter to a postal customer, the
customer approached his vehicle to tell him to take the
letter back to the Post Office. [ECF No. 115 ¶¶
22-23]. According to Jean, when he did not comply with the
customer's request, “she got irate then she slapped
me in the eyes and face with an opened hand.”
Id. ¶ 24. As described in the police report,
she “lightly slapped” Jean in the face, knocking
off his glasses. [ECF No. 96, Ex. 13]. She then went on a
rant, calling Jean a racial slur. [ECF No. 115 ¶
After Jean reported the incident to his supervisor, two
police officers were dispatched to the scene, and a few days
later, the Hingham Police Department filed charges of
“assault and battery - hate crime” against the
postal customer. [ECF No. 96, Ex. 17]. Jean claims that
following the incident, the defendant engaged in a series of
deceptive tactics and misrepresentations that culminated in
his termination. [ECF No. 61 ¶¶ 22-28].
January 2010, Jean filed a complaint with the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”),
alleging that the Postal Service discriminated against him
based on his race and color. [ECF No. 61-1, Ex. A]. On
January 24, 2014, the EEOC's Office of Federal Operations
issued its final decision finding no discrimination. [ECF No.
96, Ex. 28]. Jean initiated this action on April 30, 2014,
naming Donovan, the Postmaster General at the time, as the
defendant. [ECF No. 1]. Donovan was terminated as the
defendant on March 9, 2015 and replaced by Megan Brennan, the
new Postmaster General of the United States Postal Service.
[ECF No. 51]. Plaintiff filed a Third Amended Complaint, the
now-operative complaint, on May 4, 2015. [ECF No. 61]. The
Third Amended Complaint asserted four counts against the
Postmaster: Count I for race/color discrimination in
violation of Title VII, and Counts II, III, and IV for
constructive fraud, extrinsic fraud, and intrinsic fraud,
respectively. [ECF No. 61]. On August 11, 2015, the Court
granted defendant's Motion to Dismiss Counts II, III, and
IV, leaving only Count I for race/color discrimination. [ECF
filed a motion for summary judgment on February 2, 2016 [ECF
No. 98], and Plaintiff filed a cross-motion for summary
judgment on March 28, 2016. [ECF No. 112]. Both parties have
filed statements of undisputed facts [ECF Nos. 100, 114] and
responses to the opposing party's statements of
undisputed facts. [ECF Nos. 115, 124].
judgment is appropriate where the movant can show that
“there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact
and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). “A fact is material if
its resolution might affect the outcome of the case under the
controlling law.” Cochran v. Quest Software,
Inc., 328 F.3d 1, 6 (1st Cir. 2003). “A genuine
issue exists as to such a fact if there is evidence from
which a reasonable trier could decide the fact either
succeed in showing that there is no genuine dispute of
material fact, ” the moving party must point to
“specific evidence in the record that would be
admissible at trial.” Ocasio-Hernandez v.
Fortuño-Burset, 777 F.3d 1, 4 (1st Cir. 2015).
“That is, it must ‘affirmatively produce evidence
that negates an essential element of the non-moving
party's claim, ' or, using ‘evidentiary
materials already on file . . . demonstrate that the
non-moving party will be unable to carry its burden of
persuasion at trial.'” Id. (quoting
Carmona v. Toledo, 215 F.3d 124, 132 (1st Cir.
2000)). “One of the principal purposes of the summary
judgment rule is to isolate and dispose of factually
unsupported claims or defenses . . . .” Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986). Once the
movant takes the position that the record fails to make out
any trialworthy question of material fact, “it is the
burden of the nonmoving party to proffer facts sufficient to
rebut the movant's assertions.” Nansamba v.
North Shore Med. Ctr., Inc., 727 F.3d 33, 40 (1st Cir.
reviewing the record the court “must take the evidence
in the light most flattering to the party opposing summary
judgment, indulging all reasonable inferences in that
party's favor.” Cochran, 328 F.3d at 6.
The First Circuit has noted that this standard “is
favorable to the nonmoving party, but it does not give him a
free pass to trial.” Hannon v. Beard, 645 F.3d
45, 48 (1st Cir. 2011). “The factual conflicts upon
which he relies must be both genuine and material, ”
Gomez v. Stop & Shop Supermarket Co., 670 F.3d
395, 396-97 (1st Cir. 2012), and the court may discount
“conclusory allegations, improbable inferences, and
unsupported speculation.” Cochran, 328 F.3d at
6 (quoting Medina-Munoz v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco
Co., 896 F.2d 5, 8 (1st Cir. 1990)). ...